published Thursday, June 28th, 2012

Market shmarket


A driver takes Tesla Motors’ Model S all-electric car for a spin at Tesla’s manufacturing plant in Hawthorne, Calif.
A driver takes Tesla Motors’ Model S all-electric car for a spin at Tesla’s manufacturing plant in Hawthorne, Calif.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Who would have dreamed that the blessings of liberty included the privilege of helping multimillionaire actors and assorted fat cats pay for fashionable electric sports cars with our tax dollars? Certainly not the framers of the Constitution. The automobile didn't exist at the time, but they had the sense to include the 10th Amendment, which strictly limited federal power and included nothing that could be construed as permitting subsidies for government-preferred vehicles.

No, it takes a Congress and a series of presidents who feel unbound by the Constitution to screw things up that badly.

Today, a handful of well-to-do motorists own costly vehicles made by heavily subsidized Tesla Motors.

But Tesla might not even be manufacturing the cars were it not for the -- get this -- $465 million loan it received from the U.S. Department of Energy.

It's no secret that Washington funds all manner of "green energy" schemes, and impractical, unsustainably expensive electric cars are in the thick of the market-flouting silliness.

In case you wondered, the Tesla sports cars in question cost $109,000. Oh, and did we point out that Tesla has lost nearly $800 million since its founding in 2003 and never once made a profit, relying for its survival in large part on the huge federal loan it received?

As further evidence of the vehicle's disconnect from reality, it is manufactured in California, a state most other car manufacturers have fled the past couple of decades because of its high taxes and regulatory costs. But hey, you can afford not to care about those costs when taxpayers are footing a big part of the bill.

And hold on to your hats because Tesla is going even bigger -- again, with your generous if involuntary help.

It now is selling a mass-market electric vehicle, the Model S. Well, as "mass market" as a car can be that will have a starting price of roughly $50,000 -- after a big federal tax credit, that is.

Will it sell? You decide: Nissan's electric Leaf is about half the price of the Model S, but Nissan has sold a grand total of fewer than 30,000 Leafs since 2010. (For perspective, Nissan sold more than 22,000 of its traditional, gas-powered Altimas in just one month early this year.)

Tesla predicts only about 5,000 sales of the Model S in 2012, and deposits that people have made on the vehicles are refundable. Meanwhile, only about 2,200 of the original Tesla Roadsters -- driven by folks such as George Clooney -- have been sold since 2008.

It doesn't help that the Model S can go only 160 miles on a charge -- or 300 miles if you are willing to fork over the extra cash for a battery upgrade.

Would that Tesla were an isolated case of the federal government trying to build cars.

U.S.-based Fisker Automotive got a nearly $530 million federal loan to help it build $108,000 plug-in hybrid electric cars, in Finland of all places. And on Consumer Reports' test drive of the vehicle, the Karma, it broke down.

"[T]his is the first time in memory that we have had a car that is undriveable before it has finished our check-in process," Consumer Reports noted.

Ah, those brilliant social engineers in Washington. Where would we be without them?

31
Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
nucanuck said...

Launching new technology is a legitimate use of taxpayer dollars.

Subsidizing banks that have taken on too much risk, subsidizing a highly profitable oil industry, or subsidizing illegal wars and intervening in the affairs of other countries...those are some of the wasteful expendatures that should unite us in indignation and revolt.

June 28, 2012 at 2:14 a.m.
casett said...

This is really scary! Not government irresponsibility, that has been becoming increasingly worse throughout my lifetime. What scares me most are people who just don't get it and have access to a method of expressing the fact that they don't get it. By the constitution, the government is to protect us not provide for us. War is an ugly reality of living in a world where not everyone plays nice. Cars are the benefit of living in a protected society, a luxury so people can get together and play nice.

June 28, 2012 at 6:10 a.m.
fairmon said...

nucanuck said....

Launching new technology is a legitimate use of taxpayer dollars.

Normally true for proven and viable technology that has significant wide spread value. Electric cars and solar panels are far from it. Imagine the impact on the electrical grid if 50% of drivers plugged their car or cars in each evening. We would get a real charge from that. The government is so out of control the amount spent for what is not known and understood by anyone.

June 28, 2012 at 6:47 a.m.
lkeithlu said...

That's okay-we can let China develop these technologies for us, and then sell them to us later.

June 28, 2012 at 7:10 a.m.
anniebelle said...

that's right, lkiethlu, China is taking over the Solar energy market, right from under our noses and you can bet they're putting their minds to work on the future and not trying to return to the dark ages.

June 28, 2012 at 7:46 a.m.
conservative said...

So much wrong here and it all stems from one source : the government.

Here Socialist whose arch enemy are the rich are willing to reduce the high costs of electrical cars to the rich. Their goal is to redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor at least in theory. So why does Owebama go against the type by wasting taxpayer dollars on the rich?

Solyndra was payback for campaign dollars, I suspect this is more of the same.

June 28, 2012 at 8:30 a.m.
nucanuck said...

cassett, spending 55% of every tax dollar directly or indirectly on our military/security apparatus is not protecting us. In fact, it has weakened our economic base through debt accumulation to the point where the whole country is near bankruptcy. No country can afford such disproportionate expendature on security. Our military budget is completely out of control because of our attempt at worldwide dominance.

harp, we often agree, but IMO solar and the upgraded infrastructure that it will require are going to happen...with the US or without the US. To ignore solar is to relegate the US to the back of the bus.

June 28, 2012 at 9:42 a.m.
Leaf said...

Get off my lawn, you rotten kids! Stupid kids with their clean energy and "science." Why, in my day we burned coal in the fireplace to keep warm aaaand we liked it! Sure we got black lung, but we didn't complain about it like these mamby-pamby kids today! Electric cars... Bah! A flash in the pan! They'll never replace the horseless carriage!

June 28, 2012 at 10:34 a.m.
conservative said...

nucanuck....

You couldn't be more wrong.

Our spending on defense is around 20% with Socialism Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other Socialist programs such as food stamps make up over 50% of the annual budget.

You are a commited pacifist, opposed to our military spending but thankfully you and the rest of the "better red than dead" kooks are in the kook minority.

Solar is an expensive, impractical joke, taking up much land space for the comparative little electricy it produces.

You get more radical and reveal you commitment to Socialism every time you write.

Try typing in green and red in the future.

June 28, 2012 at 12:01 p.m.
stevedj_98 said...

As I've said here before, no American soldier has ever died fighting for electricity.

And I still can't believe your continued defense of the last century's thinking and technology. I don't see you defending the billion dollar bailout of Detroit here, only the lament of some millions in loans to a new industry. I am not a multimillionaire actor or a fat cat, BUT I do drive a 100% electric Nissan LEAF for over a year now right here in Chattanooga. I've spent ZERO dollars in maintenance, and charge it up in my home garage for less than 3 cents per mile of EPB electricity. As soon as all the paperwork is complete (I've been waiting for 3 months for approvals), I'll have solar panels on my roof to charge my LEAF for free. Lastly, as I've stated here before, 1,600 Tennesseans will begin building the Nissan LEAF in Smyrna in December, and assembling the batteries (to be shipped all over the world) as early as August. How about a little support for a new industry and job creator rather than all the criticism?

June 28, 2012 at 12:24 p.m.
anniebelle said...

As I stated on another board, the war crazed GOP will NEVER allow any cuts to our so-called Defense (war) budget because of nut jobs like CONservative. They are such cowards, they hide under their beds at the thought of having to go fight for this country. Or like Ted Nugent, soil your drawers so you can opt out, and limbaugh claimed he had a pimple on his behind, and the shrub playing dress up in his wittle flight suit and wouldn't even fulfill his obligations to attend the guard meetings.

June 28, 2012 at 1:25 p.m.
conservative said...

nucanuck.....

I found your source for that ridiculous claim that 55% of our every dollar is spent on our military.

It was Al-Jazeera TV! Al-Jazeera TV!

Now we know who has been spoon feeding you all that anti Israel propaganda.

"Al-Jazeera News says that more than half of every dollar that Americans pay into taxes goes toward military spending."

http://www.opposingviews.com/i/politics/foreign-policy/crisis-gaza/video-53-cents-every-us-tax-dollar-goes-military-spending#

June 28, 2012 at 1:43 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

Concerning the electric car and anything remotely progressive or innovative, conservatives are simply doing what conservatives do best: being hopelessly stubborn, blind, deaf, and dumb as they defend the status quo and instintively ridicule anything progressive as being socialistic and evil. To anyone with any objectivity and a smidgen of rationality the electric car is going to be THE car of the foreseeable future. It's only a matter of time before the technology advances enough, both with the car itself and the infrastructure needed to support it, to make it more practical and affordable for the average consumer. It is not wasteful or exravagant spending for the government to be subsidizing or investing in this technology. In the meantime we have to endure the squawks, whines, and tantrums of the sniveling right wing contingent as they go kicking and screaming into the future along with the rest of humanity. Too bad we can't just leave 'em all behind, where they seem to want to stay anyway.

June 28, 2012 at 2:01 p.m.
nucanuck said...

c-man, thanks for the al-Jazeera source info. I'll check them out. The 55% number refers to military AND other security costs related to national defense. Do a little checking and you will figure it out. CIA, NSA, a portion of the national debt...there are many components of security that are not in the defense budget.

Obtuseness persisted in is culpable.

June 28, 2012 at 2:04 p.m.
nucanuck said...

c-man, thanks for the al-Jazeera source info. I'll check them out. The 55% number refers to military AND other security costs related to national defense. Do a little checking and you will figure it out. CIA, NSA, a portion of the national debt...there are many components of security that are not in the defense budget.

Obtuseness persisted-in is culpable.

June 28, 2012 at 2:05 p.m.
conservative said...

nucanuck.....

You Liberals and Socialists ( I know they are the same but many others don't ) think you are so smart and everyone else is so dumb.

You act as though you were unaware of the Al-Jazeera TV promoting that 53% military spending lie and then even have the nerve to cite more of their propaganda : "CIA, NSA, a portion of the national debt...there are many components of security that are not in the defense budget."

This from Al-Jazeera TV : "Lindorff adds: “They never tell us how much they spend on the CIA, NSA and DIA, and all these different intelligence activities, which are all war-related." Sound familiar?

You go ahead and feign ignorance of Al-Jazeera TV and the parroting of the 55% lie they are promoting but you don't fool me.

I know that you are in the Socialist utopia of Canada but you must have paid U.S. taxes at one time in your life. For years the instructions for 1040 have contained the percent breakdown of federal spending. This has appeared usually in a pie graph on the back page but sometimes within. It is around 20% now but has been less in past years.

Most taxpaying Conservatives know this and can attest to what I am saying.

http://www.opposingviews.com/i/politics/foreign-policy/crisis-gaza/video-53-cents-every-us-tax-dollar-goes-military-spending#

June 28, 2012 at 3:29 p.m.
Leaf said...

According to the congressional budget office, military spending accounted for about half of all DISCRETIONARY spending. That is, things aside from what must be paid, like social security, debt payments, etc. Discretionary spending is about 40% of the total budget, so military spending is around 20% of the total budget, or 700 Billion dollars. http://www.cbo.gov/publication/42728

The 55% would be believable for discretionary spending if it included our various spy agencies, and would be low if it included veterans' health and education benefits.

June 28, 2012 at 3:36 p.m.
nucanuck said...

c-man, the 55% number has been around for a long time(over a year). US media have quoted it at times when discussing total spending for defense and defense related items. I haven't seen the al Jazeera article to which you refer, but I would add that al Jazeera is certainly not socialist and recieves high marks for impartiality in their reporting of world affairs.

BTW, I don't doubt your intelligence, but your knowledge seems to come up short with some regularity.

June 28, 2012 at 3:42 p.m.
conservative said...

nucanuck....

you wrote to me "your knowledge seems to come up short with some regularity".

Now that's amazing! As a Conservative you should have known that I have some "knowledge" of who pays taxes and where taxes are spent. You couldn't have reasoned that out?

I told you at 3:29 that defense spending has been around 20% of the federal budget for years and that this has also been published in the IRS book of instructions for form 1040 for years.

Furthermore couldn't you also have reasoned that this "knowledge" could have been gained for yourself by doing a simple Google search? The "knowledge" you would have acquired would have confirmed the "knowledge" that I tried to impart to you. Then your "knowledge" would no longer come up short.

I am not going to provide you with websites that can give you this "knowledge" at this time. I want to see just how far you are willing to be ignorant of the truth and to see if you want to stay with "knowledge" which comes up short.

June 28, 2012 at 5:13 p.m.
conservative said...

nucanuck....

Again I don't want YOUR "knowledge" to continue to come up short.

Below is evidence for the 20% Defense spending, not the preposterous 55% you and Al-Jazeera claim.

These figures were garnered from the Office Of Management and Budget ( now this is U.S. government sources, not Al-Jazeerra TV ) :

Defense and international security assistance: In 2011, 20 percent of the budget, or $718 billion, paid for defense and security-related international activities. The bulk of the spending in this category reflects the underlying costs of the Department of Defense and other security-related activities. The total also includes the cost of supporting operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, funding for which totaled $159 billion in 2011.

http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=1258

June 28, 2012 at 8:10 p.m.
Easy123 said...

Conservative,

Refer to the chart labeled: Budget breakdown for 2012 (Defense-related expenditures)

Total Spending $1.030–$1.415 trillion (National Defense alone:$716.3 billion)

Based on total enacted revenue: $2.469 trillion

Defense-related expenditures accounted for 41.7%-57.3% of our total revenue.

Based on total enacted expenditures: $3.796 trillion

Defense-related expenditures accounted for 27.1%-37.2% of our total expenditures.

Any way you cut it, defense-related spending accounts for significantly more that 20% of our budget.

June 28, 2012 at 8:31 p.m.
conservative said...

nucanuck...

Here is a nice color graph for you showing the 20% Defense spending of the U.S. contrary to your and Al-Jazeera's outrageous 55% assertion.

This from The Office of Management and Budget the U.S, government :

http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=1258

June 28, 2012 at 8:44 p.m.
Easy123 said...

Refer to my previous post, Conservative. You're wrong.

June 28, 2012 at 8:45 p.m.

The Model S is as mass-market a sedan as any other luxury sedan. Don't confuse "mass-market" with "low-end" or "budget" but rather it's meant to be sold across the nation rather than special order.

Apparently this distinction means nothing to you, or you wouldn't be ignoring it. Surely you can't be that disconnected from reality? Oh wait, you can!

Besides, please note your support for the VW plant. You loved it, but you hate Tesla? Because it's in California? Great, thanks for showing your chauvinism. Too bad for you California gets votes in the Federal government too.

BTW, you really should read some of the laws promulgated by the first Congresses. Yes, they did foster private industry, including setting up quite a few mills and manufactories. Hell what do you think the Embargo Act was about?

June 29, 2012 at 12:17 a.m.
nucanuck said...

c-man,

Tax revenue is about $2.3T while all things military and security related are about $1.2T. Your persistence in failing to compare apples to apples makes you either look goofy or short on reading ability. Either way, you seem to have a comprehension deficit.

If you are comparing the military budget to total spending, those are wholly different numbers that ONLY you are talking about.

Reading comprehension could very well be your problem, or at least one of your problems.

June 29, 2012 at 2:37 a.m.
conservative said...

nucanuck...

I provided you with OMB figures pertaining to Defense spending which was 20% while you quote a lie promoted by Al-Jazeera News saying that 55% of every dollar spent by the U.S. goes to the military. The link that I provided you and which I will do again below, has the figures and those figures are from our government. Stated another way they are NOT my figures but those of the Office of Management and Budget.

You have no authority or the means to dispute these figures nor do I. They are not hard to comprehend. You charge me with a "comprehension deficit" but it is surely yourself who has a comprehension deficit if you can't read the clear figures. There is even a color chart at the link that I have provide below that clearly shows that Defense spending is 20%.

http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=1258

June 29, 2012 at 8:56 a.m.
Easy123 said...

Conservative,

Military budget of the United States - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Refer to the chart labeled: Budget breakdown for 2012 (Defense-related expenditures)

Total Spending $1.030–$1.415 trillion (National Defense alone:$716.3 billion)

Based on total enacted revenue: $2.469 trillion

Defense-related expenditures accounted for 41.7%-57.3% of our total revenue.

Based on total enacted expenditures: $3.796 trillion

Defense-related expenditures accounted for 27.1%-37.2% of our total expenditures.

2012 United States federal budget - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

You have no authority or the means to dispute these figures nor do I. They are not hard to comprehend. The link and chart give vague, rounded values.

National Defense spending is likely 20%. But there are more expenditures that go to Defense-related programs and activities.

June 29, 2012 at 9:31 a.m.
Leaf said...

Aaaaanyway. All are in agreement we spend around 700 Billion on defense. What percentage you calculate depends on the denominator you select, whether it's budget, revenue, discretionary spending, or whatever. Dead Horse. So what does that have to do with electric cars?

5.6 seconds 0-60 with max torque available at 0 RPM? Awesome! Also low pollution? Score! Looks cool and seats five? Sweet! I'd love to have one, but with a turbine generator in the trunk for recharges when away from home. Also, the turbine should shoot flames out the back like the batmobile.

June 29, 2012 at 10:06 a.m.

I don't think that'll pass inspection unless you're a billionaire who can bribe the cops.

June 29, 2012 at 11:58 a.m.
stevedj_98 said...

Happy:

There are ZERO emissions with a 100% electric car. My Nissan LEAF, as well as the new Tesla Model S, are exempt from emissions inspection. Yet another advantage to electric vehicles.

June 29, 2012 at 5:18 p.m.

I was referring to Leaf's request for a turbine that shoots flames out the back.

Pollution aside, that'd be a serious safety issue.

Have you ever noticed, the Bat mobile never gets stuck in traffic?

June 29, 2012 at 5:22 p.m.
please login to post a comment

videos »         

photos »         

e-edition »

advertisement
advertisement

Find a Business

400 East 11th St., Chattanooga, TN 37403
General Information (423) 756-6900
Copyright, Permissions, Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, Ethics policy - Copyright ©2014, Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
This document may not be reprinted without the express written permission of Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc.